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UT study protects the Netherlands against flooding

Safe dikes are vitally important in the Netherlands. Today, researcher Dr. Anouk Bomers MSc from the University of Twente receives the 2020 KIVI Hoogendoorn Award for her PhD thesis on fluid mechanics. Her study maps the frequency of floods and is based on historical floods. That offers the Netherlands greater security in the area of flood safety.

Floods claim victims and cause extensive damage across the whole world every year. Although the last big river flood in the Netherlands dates back to 1926, the floods in 1993 and 1995 again showed the importance of sufficiently high and strong dikes. Flood frequency curves for the purpose of designing dikes are based on relatively short datasets from peak discharges measured annually.

Anouk Bomers used a method that reconstructs historical floods. The focus of the study is on the development of efficient hydraulic modelling techniques with short calculation times to extrapolate these historical floods to see the effects on the current landscape. The effects of dike breaches in Germany, for example, played a big role in this. This water could flow into the Netherlands.

The study shows that dike breaches in Germany could cause large floods in the Doetinchem-Doesburg region of the Achterhoek. These floods are significantly bigger than any dike breaches in the Ijssel, for example. A misconception in Dutch water management policy. The dataset of 120 years’ measured discharge can be extended by around 700 years with the aid of historical flood reconstructions. The estimated design strength of dikes in the Netherlands can be determined more effectively with the aid of this dataset.

Dr. Anouk Bomers MSc wins the 2020 KIVI Hoogendoorn Award for her outstanding PhD thesis. She defended her thesis at the University of Twente on 17 January 2020. Professor Suzanne Hulscher was her supervisor and Dr. Ralph Schielen was her co-supervisor. Her study was carried out within the Marine and Fluvial Systems research group at the University of Twente.

The Hoogendoorn Award is a prize for the best thesis on fluid mechanics in the Netherlands and is a collaboration between KIVI Mechanics and the J.M. Burgerscentrum (JMBC). You can find more information here.

drs. J.G.M. van den Elshout (Janneke)
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